Recently passed state budgets include some wins for infants, toddlers, and their families.
Several states increased investments in programs that support young children, such as child care, home visiting, and Part C early intervention. Others were able to protect vulnerable early childhood services from cuts. Despite this good news, state budgets continue to be a mixed bag for young children. Funding has not returned to pre-recession levels in some states, and critical services for young children are being cut in others. We applaud policymakers and advocates across the country for their hard work during these latest budget negotiations and encourage everyone to continue to Think Babies™ to ensure all young children receive the services and supports they need.
State budget wins for babies include:
- California’s final budget included approximately $250 million in additional funding to meet last year’s agreement to raise reimbursement rates for state-funded child care and preschool programs, and $25 million to update income eligibility rules and ensure children will not lose subsidies if their parents experience a modest increase in income.
- Colorado’s budget included an additional $2.5 million to expand access to child care subsidies and $1 million to continue Healthy Steps home visiting. It also extends the state’s refundable child care tax credit that was due to sunset this year and increases money for pregnancy-related depression screening.
- Illinois’ budget includes an additional $4 million for Part C early intervention and $77 million for child care subsidies. It also restores funding for home visiting programs to FY2014 levels (approximately $10 million for Healthy Families and $6.8 million for Parents Too Soon).
- Kansas passed comprehensive tax reform and once again prevented elimination of the Children’s Initiative Fund, which supports early childhood programs through use of tobacco settlement dollars.
- Louisiana’s budget included a $5 million increase for school readiness tax credits for parents, teachers, child care providers, and resource and referral agencies. Unfortunately, the legislature did not restore funding for child care subsidies, which have taken a 70% cut over the past 8 years.
- Massachusetts increased child care subsidy reimbursement rates by $38.5 million to support higher salaries for early care and education teachers.
- Michigan increased funding for child care by $24.3 million. Funds will be used to increase child care subsidy reimbursement rates, expand the income eligibility threshold for reimbursement from 125% to 130% of the federal poverty line (FPL), implement new federal child care rules, and provide additional scholarships to child care providers trying to increase their QRIS rating.
- New Mexico successfully protected early learning programs such as home visiting, child care assistance, early literacy programs, and early childhood workforce supports from cuts. The budget also included language to establish a Medicaid-funded home visiting pilot program.
- North Carolina’s budget requires establishment of a Birth-to-Third-Grade Council to create and implement a coordinated system of early care, education, and child development services for children birth to age eight.
- Despite facing a $1.8 billion deficit, Oregon protected most early childhood services (including home visiting, relief nurseries, and Early Head Start) from cuts. The state was also able to secure a $6 million increase in funding for Part C early intervention and Part B special education programs and a $1 million increase for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
- Pennsylvania’s budget included several increases for young children, including $5 million for community-based family centers that provide home visiting, $10 million for Part C early intervention, and $20 million to support more children with child care subsidies and implement 12-month eligibility.
- Rhode Island approved an incremental increase to the state minimum wage, raising it from the current $9.60 per hour to $10.50 per hour in January 2019. The state also made permanent the child care transition program, which allows low-income families receiving child care subsidy to retain eligibility as family income increases above 180% of the FPL, up to 225%.
- Vermont approved $2.2 million to fund a new grant program for early care and learning providers participating in the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) who care for infants and toddlers receiving child care subsidies. The state also increased funding for child care subsidies by $300,000 to expand income eligibility guidelines.